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Equine Disposal at the Kennels

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  • Equine Disposal at the Kennels

    Sort of a delicate subject, and not one I wanted to inquire with my hunt in case of offending anyone.

    In the UK, it was rather common place to ring the local hunt and someone would collect an ailing, aged, sick or sorry horse, and it would become food for the hounds. I knew one woman who plaited her old whip horse up for his final "hunt" and ceremoniously dropped him off for his final day at the kennels (a bit morbid, but I suppose fitting).

    Is this also practiced in the US? I have a friend considering putting her horse down before winter, and was wondering if her reaching out the the local hunts would be appropriate or offensive to the kennel staff.

  • #2
    Yes, though I suspect many hunts somewhat limit their donations to hunt members and farmers in their territory.
    Many (most) hunts are no longer set up to feed flesh, so there aren't all that many who'll take animals.
    It is indeed considered the most honorable end, particularly for a fine field hunter.
    PS I'm in the northern Virginia piedmont - there are just 2 or 3 (of dozens) of hunts around here that take animals. I think my home hunt in Tennessee from my childhood still does.
    * www.huntersrest.net -- Virginia hunt country's best Bed-and-Breakfast-and-Barn.

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    • #3
      I know in Canada part of the problem is disposal of the hides and bones, as a regular processing plant is only supposed to have cattle bones etc and can be heavily fined for being found with anything other than, even if they were just dropped off there. That can mean maintaining a pit to get rid if the extra stuff which can attract vermin an upset the neighbours.

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      • #4
        In southern Oregon there is a wild animal sanctuary that accepts horses. Owners can bring the animals down and participate or not. There is care and dignity given each donation. It is not for everyone, but it's an option for some. Some zoos may also accept this type of donation. Cycle of life.

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        • #5
          Northern or other Canada

          Some areas have people who dog sled (race etc) and they often will take an animal. Humane if you pick the correct one.
          Otherwise, unless it's deep Winter, we do our own euthansia and bury.
          Charmaine
          Apex Farms
          www.apexfarmsandappraisal.com

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          • #6
            General question based on my assumption that you can't feed an animal that has been euthed with drugs. Are people okay with their animals being either shot (bullet or captive bolt) or having their throats slit?

            For me, fitting end or not, my horse would not go to kennels. Nor to the zoo. They deserve to go gently into that good night.

            I heard a No. VA hunt horror story where an elderly huntsman had to shoot a horse numerous times to get the job done. I believe it was the last time that hunt accepted a horse.
            ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
            Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

            "Life is merrier with a terrier!"

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            • #7
              There are no guarantees in life...or death. Either a gun shot or chemical euthansia can go well or badly.
              When I had an elderly mare, I considered donating her to the local zoo. I wasn't sure I could follow through on my intention. Cicumstances decided for me when she colicked, as she needed drugs to be pain free, so drugswere the way to go.
              If I had the option of bringing my horse to a skilled, trusted huntsman, I would consider it.

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              • #8
                Most hunts here in NZ feed predominantly horse. We feed a lot of cows as well. I have held countless horses while my partner has shot them and wouldn't hesitate to have my own horses go the same way.

                We keep the hides and they are collected by a company who does tanning, and the bones are put in bags which are then put in a big bin. This gets collected every month. Tails are sold to a lady who makes false tails for show horses. So there really is no waste, and I think it's a fitting end for a horse.

                My personal thoughts are that there is nothing nice about decomposing in the ground - a clean end appeals far more. And that goes for myself as well - I have no intention of being buried.

                We only take horses the day they are to be put down, we don't keep any overnight etc. They arrive and are done immediately. They are treated with kindness as if they were our own. We sometimes have owners who wish to stay until the horse has been put down, and that's fine. It's not for everyone, but I would do the same just for peace of mind, knowing that it all went smoothly.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by otterhound View Post
                  Most hunts here in NZ feed predominantly horse. We feed a lot of cows as well. I have held countless horses while my partner has shot them and wouldn't hesitate to have my own horses go the same way.

                  We keep the hides and they are collected by a company who does tanning, and the bones are put in bags which are then put in a big bin. This gets collected every month. Tails are sold to a lady who makes false tails for show horses. So there really is no waste, and I think it's a fitting end for a horse.

                  My personal thoughts are that there is nothing nice about decomposing in the ground - a clean end appeals far more. And that goes for myself as well - I have no intention of being buried.

                  We only take horses the day they are to be put down, we don't keep any overnight etc. They arrive and are done immediately. They are treated with kindness as if they were our own. We sometimes have owners who wish to stay until the horse has been put down, and that's fine. It's not for everyone, but I would do the same just for peace of mind, knowing that it all went smoothly.
                  In addition to chemical euthanasia being hardly one of "going gently into that good night". I have seen more than one in my day and a good percentage of them are not. It also really bothers me that so much goes to waste, never mind the possible groundwater pollution that could occur with all the chemials in the body. The waste is the worst though. Here the game farm takes horses, if they are horses that could be rehomed, they do that, or they go to feed the bears/wolves/cougars. No big deal really. I would love to see horse hides, manes, tails and flesh to be put to a useful purpose and wished I could have done so for the sweet little guy I lost in January.
                  "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK

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                  • #10
                    In addition to chemical euthanasia being hardly one of "going gently into that good night".
                    I agree 100% and so does my Vet a well placed bullet or Captive Bolt is quicker. Chemical Euthanasia is expensive and often ugly and takes way more time. We have even found chemical euthanised horses @ the track standing up very much alive the next morning after sustaining a life ending injury and Chemically Euthanised by Vet

                    I don't know any hunts around us who will take on any animal to feed hounds either.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by judybigredpony View Post
                      I agree 100% and so does my Vet a well placed bullet or Captive Bolt is quicker. Chemical Euthanasia is expensive and often ugly and takes way more time. We have even found chemical euthanised horses @ the track standing up very much alive the next morning after sustaining a life ending injury and Chemically Euthanised by Vet

                      I don't know any hunts around us who will take on any animal to feed hounds either.
                      That's horrifying. Actually someone aught to take pictures of that and post them so that the chemical crowd can get a good hard look. Sad that they kennels in your area will not take horses but with all of the junk that people use in their horses these days without much of a thought, I would not risk my hounds either.
                      "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK

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                      • #12
                        Very interesting and informative.
                        I've put down a few dogs due to old age, but not yet a horse. It's interesting to see how different methods apply to different sized animals.

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                        • #13
                          I donated my older horse to a wolf sanctuary. He had always been very drug resistant (often needing extra shots to float teeth, etc) and I figured a bullet would be quicker and kinder. The place was recomended by the local vet. Plus it helped me in a way to feel that his death was "useful "
                          The hunt was my second choice and I had spoken to them also, but it was a much longer drive.
                          "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by judybigredpony View Post
                            We have even found chemical euthanised horses @ the track standing up very much alive the next morning after sustaining a life ending injury and Chemically Euthanised by Vet
                            I know someone who looked out the window later that afternoon to see previously "euthanised" horse galloping down the road. Had to have a "do over".

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                            • #15
                              I gave my mare to the hunt to feed the hounds...we'd hunted over them and it seemed very circle-of-life for her to support the hunt.
                              "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Kryswyn View Post
                                General question based on my assumption that you can't feed an animal that has been euthed with drugs. Are people okay with their animals being either shot (bullet or captive bolt) or having their throats slit?

                                For me, fitting end or not, my horse would not go to kennels. Nor to the zoo. They deserve to go gently into that good night.

                                I heard a No. VA hunt horror story where an elderly huntsman had to shoot a horse numerous times to get the job done. I believe it was the last time that hunt accepted a horse.
                                Decently placed shot (or a vet skilled with a Bell gun or humane killer) is instantaneous, as least brain death as the brain's destroyed. At the very least, chemically they're 'falling asleep' against their will, and while the spasms are PROBABLY painless, it's not like we can ask.

                                And practically, it's easier to dispose of a carcass that's not contaminated with deadly toxins.
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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Kryswyn View Post
                                  Are people okay with their animals being either shot (bullet or captive bolt) or having their throats slit?
                                  The next horse I have euthed will be shot.

                                  The only reason my heart horse was chemically euthed was because it was an emergency, he was having seizures, and the vet was already there.

                                  I'd rather have an experienced marksman put a bullet in my horse and get instantaneous death, than worry about the chemicals not working fast enough.

                                  Plus, as someone else stated, I was concerned about contaminating the ground water when I buried the horse who was chemically euthed. It was away from the water source, but I know those chemicals will leach away to possibly appear somewhere else.

                                  Originally posted by Kryswyn View Post
                                  For me, fitting end or not, my horse would not go to kennels. Nor to the zoo. They deserve to go gently into that good night.
                                  Dead is dead, regardless of how they get that way. The animal doesn't care what you do with its body once it's gone.

                                  If I thought I could feed other animals with any of mine when their time comes, I'd be happy to donate them.

                                  Heart horses are different, though. I understand if someone can't do something like that when it comes to an animal who means more to them emotionally than others.
                                  Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.

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                                  • #18
                                    I had a horse euthed by a big cat sanctuary. It was very quick and seemed painless. One second he was eating hay, the next he was gone.

                                    I have been present at the chemical euthansia of a horse and I think I will be scarred for life. The mare, even in her severely starved state, fought hard, screamed repeatedly, staggered, fell, kept trying to get up. The person who tried to save her was crying and begging the vet to do something, the vet was yelling for the tech to run to his truck and get more drugs, tech was paniced and racing to get more meds. It was just not a good thing.
                                    Rhode Islands are red;
                                    North Hollands are blue.
                                    Sorry my thoroughbreds
                                    Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :

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                                    • #19
                                      I think it's nice Hunts will take horses and I'm interested to learn this is the norm in NZ.

                                      I strongly agree with others who have said a bullet is a humane method of euthanasia. I've assisted on many pentobarbital euth's and took the opportunity to read the euthanasia section in the medical text one of the vets I worked for carried in his truck. It was written neutrally, but still seemed to indicate that a gunshot (slightly above between the eyes) was the quickest and not painful. I asked the vet about it and he was just like,"Oh yea, absolutely."

                                      At the racetrack, guns were not allowed on-site anyway, and of course all "flesh" would be tainted as racehorses rarely get the "wait and see" prescription more common for pet horses kept at home. They will probably still have sedatives from the diagnostic imaging as well as NSAIDs in their systems. If it were my decision, I would rather see most of these horses stay on painkillers and get the injection, rather than get a long trailer ride and have to wait for days to be drug-free.

                                      However:

                                      Pentobarbital isn't pretty. The required dose varies radically, which is the main reason there's a risk of waking up. A young horse who is injured but not sick requires A LOT more, and the drug itself isn't cheap. I've personally never seen a horse wake-up, but I've heard the stories. The vet I worked with at the track used high-doses and was crazy-careful to stay and observe the horse quite a while. This was usually done in a subtle way, where he would linger and chat with the owners until they did their final sigh and wandered off, then he would go to collect his kit, at which point he would do a final, brief exam to verify the horse's passing.

                                      Without sedation beforehand, you will almost certainly see the horse go buggy. Apparently, at that point the horse is already "gone" and this is just a physical reaction to the drug. It's not understood to be an indication of fear or pain. But it is very unpleasant.

                                      With sedation, supposedly you are just suppressing the convulsions, but the internal process is still the same (?) In addition to sedation, it's my understanding that more pent. should also be used when you go this route (as the vast majority do).

                                      For people who have a private place to bury their animals, I think following recommended treatments but ultimately choosing gunshot over injection is totally reasonable. I feel if you want your animal not to be wasted, that's ideal, but I think you really have to take stock of your own situation. There may be circumstances where drug Tx's can be ended (or not begun), but other times when pain still needs to be managed or putting off the euthanasia to wait for antibios, steroids, etc to metabolize out may be unkind.

                                      Just an aside (and FYI) the animals sanctuaries I've been acquainted with have always had waiting lists.

                                      Interesting topic!
                                      An auto-save saved my post.

                                      I might be a cylon

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                                      • #20
                                        There aren't hunts where I live, but I find this an intriguing idea. I'm not sure I could do it for *my* horse, but I think it's a fine idea for those who are so inclined.

                                        I grew up on a large farm; chemical euths were very infrequent, and almost always only happened when a BAD emergency/accident had occurred and the vet was already there. I don't believe I've yet seen a chemical euth that went "well."

                                        Most of ours (horses and dogs) were put down by my Dad and his gun. I never gave that a second's thought growing up, it just seemed natural for us to handle it ourselves. When it's done with respect and skill, it's a damn-near instantaneous end.

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